June 18, 2005
Rocknroll Hanover rolled to victory the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup, Canada's richest harness race and the richest pacing event on the continent, at Woodbine on June 18. The finest three-year-old pacers in the world were on display in the 22nd edition of the classic and Rocknroll Hanover, co-owned by Jeffrey Snyder of New York City and Audrey Campbell's Lothlorien Equestrian Centre of Mississauga, went postward the overwhelming 3-5 choice, as he put his seasonal unbeaten streak on the line, a perfect four-for-four.
With Brian Sears at the controls, the heavily-favoured son of Western Ideal took over after a first quarter in 25.4, then proceeded to methodically blister his way around the course (:54.3 for the half, 1:23.4 for three-quarters), eventually finishing a length in front of Stonebridge Regal at the wire in 1:49.4. Runover Feeling finished third, five and one-half lengths behind the winner, while Cams Fool, a stablemate of Rocknroll Hanover, wound up fourth after pressing the leader turning for home.
Trained by Brett Pelling, Rocknroll Hanover, a half-brother to the 2002 Cup winner Red River Hanover (both out of the mare Rich N Elegant), had notched the $500,000 Jersey Classic May 28 at the Meadowlands, then had looked ultra-impressive in his Cup elimination last week, which he accomplished in the same manner as tonight, taking over well before the half and laying down the gauntlet.
It was the first Cup win for Sears, the second for Lothlorien and the third for Snyder and Pelling. Lothlorien and Snyder co-owned Red River Hanover as well, while Snyder also owned 1994 Cup champion Cams Card Shark. Pelling won the 1995 Cup with Davids Pass and the 1999 renewal with The Panderosa.
"I was hoping to get the drive on the colt when he came back this year," said Sears. "He's a real strong horse. He gets the respect he deserves. The trip worked out the best it could possibly work out for me. Out of the gate, I was going to leave hard and see what happens. I didn't know how many horses were going to be leaving outside of me. I was just going to play it from there."
Added Pelling "He's (Rocknroll Hanover) got a huge amount of strength and power. We're really finding out he has a lot of speed. I never really thought that he was a high speed horse. He's all grown up now. He's really gone from two (years old) to four. Now, as a three-year-old, he's just seems fully mature, taking everything in stride and just doesn't act like there's going to be a problem."
What a difference a year makes. Last season, Rocknroll Hanover was virtually ignored until he set a world mark for two-year-olds by winning Woodbine's rich Metro Pace in 1:49.4, at odds of 31-1. While he then went on to qualify for the season's end Breeders Crown, he was scratched from the final due to sickness, forfeiting a chance for divisional honours over Village Jolt, and was put away for the winter. Obviously, he's come back better than ever.
Jack Moiseyev, driving the Bob McIntosh-trained and co-owned Stonebridge Regal, said, "I got a great trip. I just wish that I was on the front and [Rocknroll Hanover] was behind me. My horse is really, really good, he just got backed down and it was a sprint for home. I didn't get out until late but he raced great. He was very good. He was game and he always tries. We came [the final quarter-mile] in 26 [seconds flat] and he was right there with him."
Rocknroll Hanover picked up $750,000 for the win and now joins an illustrious list of Cup winners and career millionaires, now with over $1.7 million in the bank, with the possibility of much, much more on the horizon. He paid $3.40, $2.90 and $2.30, combining with Stonebridge Regal ($4.40, $3.20) for a $13.90 (5-4) exactor. A 5-4-3 (Runover Feeling, $4.30 to show) triactor was worth $46.40.